“What is this…?”
Grand labyrinth of Yaso-Katsui, that’s the largest labyrinth in the world.
The word ‘grand’ just naturally describes it.
A dark, confined and humid underground dungeon that brings chills in my spine, the big boss of the caves.
In the first place, I thoroughly hate labyrinths, and on top of that, it is dark and humid…oops, let’s stop repeating that. Anyways, it is true that I came here with quite the resolve.
…And yet, right now, I had my mouth wide open and was looking at this place.
It is bright like broad daylight, is unbelievably vast, and has an abnormally wide and tall ceiling.
I remember having this feeling before.
Right, that was when I was watching a TV program about the underground discharge channel.
It was the same feeling as when the excessively spacious space was projected like some ancient historic ruins.
It is a space that reminds me of how incredibly small people are.
This place is similar.
Grand Labyrinth of Yaso-Katsui, wide first floor underground.
That’s the name of this place.
“The entrance gate was gigantic as well after all. It looks like they give it quite a lot of maintenance.” (Tomoe)
“Right-desu wa. Leaving aside how far of this dungeon looks like this, the power of the people is pretty impressive. About 1-2 kilometers of the World’s Borders has begun to have the handiwork of people involved, so once the conflicts are resolved, it might become a situation like this.” (Mio)
What Mio said about: ‘how far of this dungeon looks like this’ referred to the situation in our surroundings. It is like a famous touristic spot.
People, people, people; unbelievable liveliness.
…Well, the World’s Border might become like this around the entrance.
Leaving aside if the World’s Border can actually be considered a good tourist spot, the current vitality of Tsige is certainly unmeasurable.
Looks like Tomoe and Mio didn’t know that the labyrinth was in this situation either, they are looking around with interest.
They aren’t showing an unsightly behavior like opening their mouths wide though.
After advancing for a while, the density of people steadily decreased and it finally entered a state where we can look at our surroundings.
Even though it is a labyrinth, the groups of people stand out more than the mamonos.
The field of vision is also satisfactory. There’s simply a lot of people, there’s no darkness.
There’s a lot of people that seem to be customers and also gatherings of beginner-looking adventurers.
Since it is a labyrinth, it will obviously have mamonos appearing here and there.
I can see a number of people fighting.
The moment a mamono is spotted, the cases when they gang up on it are many.
How to say it…how peaceful.
For a moment, I felt like I came to a beginner field in an MMO game.
It feels exactly like a famous hunting spot that’s a few maps away from the city.
“Hokuto, how’s the accuracy of the map you bought at the guild?” (Shii)
“…There’s parts where the scaling is not measured well, but it is mostly accurate, Waka-sama.” (Hokuto)
“Hello~? The one who asked just now was the companion that has been with you for several days now, Shii-chan.” (Shii)
“You coincidentally asked something that I was about to tell Waka-sama, that’s all, Shii.” (Hokuto)
For some reason, Hokuto directed the answer of Shii’s question to me.
Hokuto and Shii, it looks like they are doing well.
They are both from different races, so I was wondering how it was going, but I don’t see any such friction between them.
Even if their time together has been short, it would be nice if this serves as a test case for future chances.
The Arke, Hokuto, has in his hands the map of the grand labyrinth that we bought at the Adventurer Guild before coming here.
In a lot of meanings, he is the best choice to hold the map.
It is a super high-class article that shows the layout until the 10th floor, and it is thick. The price was also brutal, but well, it is crazy thick.
For some strange reason, just because of this one point, I was able to somewhat accept its price. Must be the magic of thickness.
Of course, it is not like we are walking around with the closed map.
We had unfastened the superficial map first.
“Please leave the mapping to me.” (Hokuto)
His other specialty aside from fighting is mapping.
Maybe because there were many occasions Hokuto has been asked to do things like surveying, at some point in time, he had obtained enough ability to call it his specialty.
He said that by activating the surveying skill, he is able to grasp the surrounding topography in a distance of around 100 hectares.
The first time I was explained this, I remember that I was flustered when I suddenly heard the word hectares. When he added by saying: ‘Maybe it would have been easier to understand if I had put it in ares?’ it made me even more flustered.
Neither of them click in my head, geez.
For a normal person, measurements like ares, hectares, and hectopascals are already puzzling enough, and yet, for some reason, everyone in Asora is able to adopt such a variety of my memories.
Hectares is supposed to be a measurement used in agricultural lands, so I think he is able to survey quite a large distance. Thanks to the special mapping skill of Hokuto, I am able to use [Sakai] for the usual self-defense and power concealment.
I am grateful for that.
“I am counting on you, Hokuto. Beren, is that matter with the sword okay?” (Makoto)
“I have tightly shut him up, so please don’t worry. Even if by some chance a person that can hear its voice appears, releasing the seal will take several days. Wouldn’t even be possible to move it.” (Beren)
“Nice. Hah, it was so noisy I couldn’t take it. That guy spoke nonstop for all night.” (Makoto)
“In the end, no one else aside from Waka-sama was able to hear its voice, so in my personal opinion, it actually feels pretty vexing.” (Beren)
“I think not being able to hear it is for the best. That thing is seriously…” (Makoto)
“A weapon that has a will, and yet, no blacksmith was able to hear its voice, but Waka-sama is able to. Why? Hmmm…” (Beren)
“Lately, I have been able to speak with a variety of things, so I am the strange one here. At any rate, I am not even a swordsman to begin with.” (Makoto)
Right now, the people here are me, Tomoe, Mio, Beren, Hokuto, and Shii.
Einkaref is currently…at the hotel’s room.
…We left it there together with Iroha-chan.
While at it, we also left Shougetsu-san and his companions there too.
We told them that we will be returning every night there, and then, Akashi-san shouted: ‘Safety secuuured!’ and made a victory pose. That image is burned in my mind.
‘Being able to receive safety, that surpasses what someone can buy with money, is fantastic’, is what Yuduki-san said.
The security in the Chihiro Man Rai restaurant is, to be expected of a high-class hotel, in quite the level to begin with, so we simply placed a bit more defense on the shed.
In the end, even if they return home, the ‘prince and princess battle royale: assassination race’ is still continuing, and if Iroha-chan returns there, she will be in a situation that invites danger.
I thought about escorting them there this morning, but Shougetsu-san’s group was at the reception in good timing, and we agreed to them using the room.
Accurately speaking…it was Shougetsu-san with bloodshot eyes pleading at me though.
The charming information gathering and land survey Iroha-chan did in the many villages we visited on our way to Kannaoi, and the investigation results we gathered; we gave that information to them, and told Shougetsu-san and the others to hear about it and try comparing.
…That girl is…kind.
The current me can understand her a bit.
The numbers and the present state that the people in the villages answered Iroha-chan with, its meaning…those numbers were quite different from the actual numbers.
Even so, it is not like it was a mistake.
The tax of this world is absurdly high after all.
From country to feudal lord, from feudal lord to government officials, from government officials to the village chiefs; as this information gets passed around in this fashion, there’s bribery that’s really usual.
Even in the Edo period, there was a ratio of 4 to government and 6 to people and they were still saying things like: ‘it is practically tax-free’, as they opened their arms wide and collected heavy amounts of tax.
That’s why villages will protect themselves as well.
They are thinking of a lot of ways to live by even if taxes are taken.
And in truth, in Kannaoi, the normal ratio is 8-government 2-people, and 9-government 1-people.
Even in the villages that we had gone to, their report compared to the real amount harvested is incredibly low, and by doing this, they managed to reduce the tax for a long time, and they also secretly cultivate crops with high potential to turn into money and do side jobs.
With Tomoe and Mio, most situations can’t be hidden, so the real situation in those kind of parts was completely laid bare to me.
That information…I don’t know how it will roll, but I have left it in Iroha-chan’s hands.
I didn’t have any intentions of receiving any money or rewards, but hearing the words she declared as she turned around when we arrived at Kannaoi, I decided to give this to her in order to have her stop.
This is just too much after all.
“The new route that will connect Mizuha and Kannaoi, I will negotiate with the country and make sure to have it named Raidou route! With a grand public work project, we will place all our gratitude and respect! Definitely-na no desu!”
That’s no joke, geez.
Just remembering it is making my head hurt.
“Now then, let’s begin the labyrinth exploration. Anyways, the priority is to find the stairs going down.” (Makoto)
If we simply stand around the vicinity of the entrance, we might become the preys of ardent salesmen trying to push us tour guides or souvenirs.
And in reality, the presence of business is stuffy here.
Around here, the people that are holding a flag are selling tour guides, and there’s also salesgirls from companies that have temporary stores inside the dungeon.
Their commercial spirit is tough.
Of course, they are selling on site, so it is a lot pricier than buying it in the city. Must be because the location price is also included.
It is a mystery whether a place as close as this can become good business though.
“Hokuto, where’s the stairs that head down-desu no?” (Mio)
Mio asks Hokuto the location of the stairs.
Receiving a question from a direct superior, Hokuto was slightly flustered, but after a bit, he said that it wasn’t that far from here and points at the crowd.
…It is unexpectedly close.
“It seems like there’s people heading down from there.” (Hokuto)
“For a spacious place, it is pretty close.” (Makoto)
Is the objective of these people to sell things to the ones that are soon going to the second floor?
Whatever it is, it can still be bought in the city though.
Everyone should have at least that amount of intelligence.
“That place and over there as well. And there’s also one there too.” (Hokuto)
“Eh? Eh?” (Makoto)
Hokuto was pointing different places one after the other.
In almost all the places he pointed, there were people gathered.
Why are there so many places where you can go down?
…Is it because it is big?
Is it because it is nothing but big?!
I was beginning to get dejected in a different meaning.
When I look carefully, there are stores in each of those places, and it seems like they are selling what seems to be tools.
“…Well, that’s fine. For now, let’s go down from there.” (Makoto)
I don’t have a hobby of completing maps anyways.
Just quickly advance.
“Oho, wait there! That’s a bad move!! You guys, this is your first time in here, right? Beginners, right?”
In the time I was amazed and overwhelmed, we were caught.
Even though we have already cleared the place that was the most crowded.
“I have been picking a biiit of your conversation for a while now, you see. Yeah, I have deduced that you need my help here!”
“No, we are fine here. Thanks.” (Makoto)
I throw him some small change and gesture him to disappear.
So small. He is probably a demi-human, the child-looking type.
His height doesn’t even reach my chest, so in the standards of the people in this world, he is pretty short.
Well it must be like those shota and loli.
He is probably not the age his appearance shows.
“Don’t give me that please, man. I know something that will be of use to you, you know? I can be useful.”
Looks like he is not backing off.
…Was the money to shoo him away not enough?
It may be normal for a tourist spot to have rip-offs, but maybe it is also because this is a dungeon that takes entrance fees.
It might be that.
There’s an entrance fee every time, so in order to stay long in this dungeon without leaving, there’s stores inside the dungeon, probably?
It is true that the entrance fee was strange.
There’s the 1 time, a pass for 1 week, a pass for 1 month, and there’s also a 1 year pass; with a value set for all of them, you would get benefits from it.
Of course, paying each time will obviously be costly. But…this place was the contrary, it steadily increases. You can tell at a glance that paying the entrance fee each time is the best choice.
I was wondering what in the world they wanted to achieve with that.
Obviously, we paid the one-entrance fee.
As long as we don’t know who we will meet and what kind of relationship it will turn out in, I have the intentions of paying for the fee tomorrow and the day after too.
“The tour guides and information stores around here are all useless after all!!”
If that’s the case, you should be useless too.
Why should we believe that this one in front of us is the only proper one around here?
“…Understood, I get it! Then, I will provide you some special service!”
Oh, it came. The ‘special service’.
I feel like he will be saying things like: ‘I will half the price’, when we haven’t even heard the price yet.
“The money you gave me just now, I will pay it with a bit of information.”
Oh, he is surprisingly saying something decent.
For a rip-off, that is.
“Sensei, you said just now that you will be going down from here, right?”
I certainly did say that.
I’m not a ‘sensei’ though.
“Do you know what’s below that?”
“The second floor underground?” (Makoto)
“That’s an answer that tells me you don’t understand this place at all!”
You are too close.
It should be the second floor down there.
If it’s actually the third floor or something like that, it would make me happy though.
The child demi-human is looking at me smiling.
Well, his face is saying: ‘Do you want to hear more? Is it bothering you?’
He is probably asking for more payment, so I give him a silver coin and decide to see his reaction.
“Wao! Nice. I like people that are generous!”
“And so, what’s this you were talking about ‘what’s beyond here’.” (Makoto)
“The Trap Floor.”
“Are you saying the second floor is filled with traps?” (Makoto)
“Nope, the 2th floor that these stairs lead you to is filled with traps, the strength of the mamonos is low, and their element is mostly fire.”
The 2th floor that these stairs ‘lead’ to?
Ah, I have an incredibly bad feeling about this.
“I have been given this much, so…the one you see at your right is the Rock Wind Floor. Sturdy rocks create a labyrinth and from here and there you will encounter squalls, there’s practically no traps, and in terms of mamonos, there’s mostly Golems, and…”
“It is a dead end.”
In other words, it is that? There’s so many stairs here that I don’t even know how many there are by looking from here, and all of them are connected to the second floor, moreover, there’s no assurance that it will be connected to the third floor?
It will probably continue being like that from the third floor on…
So that’s the reason why that map was so thick.
This is the worst.
“I see. So that’s how this labyrinth works.” (Makoto)
“Now that you understand…it looks like you guys don’t have any intentions of having someone accompany you. Must be because you already have a consolidated party.”
“Well, yeah.” (Makoto)
“Then, how about this. The information I know, and the information you want to know; how about buying all of that at once?”
“Hokuto, seems like it is this kind of dungeon. How long would it take to make a route? Do you think we have the time to hear what this information broker has to say?” (Makoto)
“I have finished surveying several floors already, but it seems like I will need a bit more time. There’s still some parts down that I…” (Hokuto)
“Understood. No need to hurry.” (Makoto)
“This is surprising. Is the big one there the one in charge of mapping?”
“How much for all?” (Makoto)
I am not obliged to answer his question.
“Heee, it would be about this much of the big ones.”
The information broker opens up his palm.
Big ones…he is talking about gold huh.
5 of those.
If it’s useful information, I don’t mind paying that amount, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ‘feed’ a number of useful people here.
Can’t say for sure that we will be able to move all the people of the company that are currently here, and it wouldn’t be bad to show that I am a good pay.
Let’s just try to bargain for the looks, and give him the gold later.
Like the time when I was buying bamboo rakes from the store owner.
“5 gold coins huh. Isn’t that…quite the price?” (Makoto)
“G-Gold?! No no no! It is silver. Please don’t joke. 5 gold, you say. That would be surpassing the boundaries of a rip-off and entering the realms of robbery. I am a proper information broker!”
I wasn’t intending to actually haggle though.
It instantly turned cheap.
In the first place, it was my own misunderstanding huh.
The entrance fee here is 2 silvers for each person.
Even if we are his first customers today, is it really okay to spill out all your information for only 5 silvers?
“Isn’t that quite cheap?” (Makoto)
“The information I have, or more like, it is the information that the people in the first floor sell, so yeah.”
“Are you telling me there are specific information brokers for the deeper floors too?” (Makoto)
“Of course. At the respective floor’s portal, there will be information brokers. But well, in the floors that safety hasn’t been secured, the information of that area will be less though.”
“More specifically?” (Makoto)
I pay him 5 silver coins and urge him to continue.
“I’ve heard that till the 13th floor, there will be information brokers on every floor. There, it seems you will get information until the 15th floor.”
“‘You have heard’? ‘It seems’? Could it be that you have never been there?” (Makoto)
“Please spare me. In my times when I was active, the lowest I could reach was the 6th floor and that was by chance. I am a guy that was always just going around the 5th floor. Yeah, it truly was only by chance that I was able to reach the 6th floor and I only took a peek of it. At that moment, I learned of my own limitations.”
In that case, maybe the 5th floor is the first place where you will hit a wall?
And the simple fact that he has experience in reaching the 6th floor is something to boast about?
I don’t really understand what’s the connection between his active days and his change in job to an information broker though.
“I see..” (Makoto)
“Ah, see there? There’s a guy there that’s guiding the labyrinth beginners, right? He is a guy that was in the same party as mine, we have known each other for long. Well, I have experience in parties as well. There’s a lot of things, you know. Separate ways, deaths, break ups; in the past, we did a lot of reckless things at the 5th floor.”
I got no use for your reminiscing though.
I want my 5 silver worth of information.
“Sorry for interrupting your reminiscing, but what are those ‘portals’ that you mentioned in your talk with Waka? It is a name I am not familiar with-ja.” (Tomoe)
“Oops, this wasn’t the time to be talking about me. Sorry about that. Portals are, putting it simply, teleport devices located in each floor.”
What’s with that pleasant gimmick?
“Teleportation huh. In other words, you can use that to instantly go to the deepest parts?” (Tomoe)
She said exactly what I was thinking.
“Yeah, in outline.”
“In outline huh.” (Tomoe)
“Right after passing the entrance gate, you saw a path that goes another way, right?”
“Umu, there certainly was.” (Tomoe)
“There’s a portal there that connects the entrance with the first floor. You can use the teleport device free of charge, but…there’s a condition.”
The information broker points his right hand’s index finger at us.
“That you have already reached the portal of that floor. That’s the condition for its use. Arrive there once, and by registering your adventurer guild’s card, the teleportation device will be available for use.”
So it is not that simple huh.
But with this, we can go in and out of the deep floors without arousing much suspicions. Useful information.
Now that I think about it, the only things I found at the Adventurer Guild when I went this morning was the thick high priced map, and a thin pamphlet for a countryside town somewhere.
‘If you want more details, please go there and learn of it’, that’s seriously what I was told.
Entrance fees, stores, information brokers, guides for adventurers; everyone is going full-throttle in doing business.
“Now then, let’s get back in track. I am a former explorer of the labyrinth, name’s Lubrahon Gonzou, I will have the honor of giving you a lecture about the labyrinth’s outline. What I like is my first grandchild that was born this year, and what I hate the most are Cat Siths.” (Gonzou)
Gonzou starts his talk like a desultory conversation –wait, that’s an impressive name you have there, Gonzou.
What you like is your grandchild huh, that’s cliche… wait what?! A grandchild?!
“A grandchild huh. Must be cute. Treasure them dearly, Gonzou. We are the Kuzunoha Company. The person you have been speaking so familiarly with is the representative, Raidou-sama. Our Waka-sama. I am Mio, and the one over there is Tomoe-san; we are his close-aides. There’s the employees: Beren, Hokuto, and Shii.” (Mio)
“Oho, thanks for the politeness.” (Gonzou)
“You introduced yourself, so this is just formality-desu wa. We are not chatting here, so continue on.” (Mio)
So Mio warned him as she did our introductions huh.
And I could see Tomoe giggling.
Beren and Hokuto are dividing the work of the map and are in the middle of confirming it, Shii is bearing the metal rod that doesn’t match her body size…as if she is playing baseball.
“The first thing I have to mention is a misunderstanding that’s normally made when coming here for the first time. This first floor, popularly named as Entrance, is vast and the people that see it for the first time get surprised by it, but…” (Gonzou)
I unintentionally made a dumbfounded face.
The ceiling is truly tall and the wideness is crazy.
“The smallest floor in the Yaso-Katsui labyrinth…is this Entrance.” (Gonzou)
Are you serious?
This is the second time today that I felt the words ‘20th floor’ as something incredibly heavy.
I could feel my stomach churning.